Britain central to global wine trade, say figures

Britain’s wine trade has more than doubled in the last decade, making it one of the most important countries in the world for wine, new figures released on the opening day of the London Wine Fair reveal.

The WSTA report is being released at the London Wine Fair, which kicks off today. It is the biggest wine trade exhibition in the UK (Photo: LWF)

The WSTA report is being released at the London Wine Fair, which kicks off today. It is the biggest wine trade exhibition in the UK (Photo: LWF)

The UK is now the world’s second largest importer of wine by volume behind Germany, and the second largest by value, behind only the US.

It means Britain imports more wine per head than any other of the world’s top markets.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s inaugural Wine Report reveals the complexity and scale of the UK’s place in the international wine industry.

The latest analysis, revealed by WSTA CEO Miles Beale at the London Wine Fair today, shows the UK trades on six continents with 124 different countries, while its biggest block market is the EU.

The main driver of growth in the British wine trade is its growing dominance in the import-export trade.

This is in part down to huge investment in bottling plants and results directly from the UK’s reputation as the preferred point of entry into the EU’s Single Market, the WSTA report claims.

Miles Beale, WSTA chief executive, said: “Britain has become a global giant in the wine industry, something which is evident from the complex importing and exporting networks highlighted in the WSTA’s first ever annual Wine Report.

“The UK is the 6th largest, and probably the most diverse, wine market in the world. We employ 170,000 people directly and a further 100,000 people in the supply chain including agricultural, technical and seasonal jobs.

“Britain now has a huge capacity to import and package wine on home soil, making us a key hub for distribution domestically, but also to the EU and globally. The UK is the international wine industry’s destination of choice for onward distribution to the EU and other Northern hemisphere markets.”

Wine is the UK’s most popular drink, the WSTA claims, with the equivalent of 30 million people drinking wine – more than one person per household.

The 2016 WSTA Wine Report, published today, also reveals the UK’s top ten wine trading destinations, showing continued good relationships with France and the US.

And also includes emerging wine markets such as Moldova, Macao, UAE and Brazil.

With 98% of all wine in the UK imported, the industry has invested heavily in its capacity to ship in containers of wine which is now bottled on British soil.

New bottling plants operating in the UK are packaging an estimated 600m bottles a year, creating thousands of jobs and dramatically cutting carbon emissions.

The UK wine industry generates around £17.3 billion in economic activity including sales worth £6.6 billion for shops and supermarkets and £4 billion for pubs, bars and restaurants.

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